DBQ 17: A National Clash of Cultures in the 1920’s
With the arrival of the 1920’s, new battles fought between traditionalist rural society and modernist urban civilization arose in the postwar United States. These urban-rural culture wars of this time period represent the everlasting conflict between conservatives and liberals. The 1920 census demonstrated to traditionalists that their views were under attack by the modernists who gradually came to outnumber them. Traditionalists were disturbed that they were losing a battle against immigrants who didn’t understand or appreciate “old American values” and against their own children, a new generation of rebellious youth who brought about sexual revolution, materialism, and skepticism.
Racism and prejudice were growing at an alarming rate as immigrants rapidly poured into overcrowded eastern cities. In the election of 1928, the ever-so-popular Herbert Hoover ran against Al Smith. Smith was an Irish, Roman Catholic, modernist from the immigrant infested city of New York. Because of their prejudiced opinions, there was no way that traditionalists would vote for him for obvious motives, but the most prevalent reason would be his religion. Catholicism was mainly frowned upon by the rural conservatives, most of which came from protestant backgrounds. Eight years prior, Warren G. Harding ran on a campaign for a “return to normalcy”. This normalcy he strove for made him very popular to the traditionalist who believed that he may fight against the immoral behavior of the urban dwellers. Sadly however, his cabinet had a number of greedy and thieving members that accepted bribes and secret payments, leaving behind a series of remarkable scandals in Harding’s single term. The normalcy ideal remained popular though as the KKK spread its hatred toward immigrants, Catholicism, and anything else not traditionally American. One Klan leader, H. W. Evans, ironically wrote about how traditionalists were being...
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